Bipolar Disorder: What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder: What is Bipolar Disorder?

By Lynette Rivas

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric health disorder that causes changes to an individual’s mood, energy, and their ability to function. Bipolar disorder is accompanied by mood episodes that can last distinct periods of times, such as days or weeks. This disorder is common among families where 80% to 90% of individuals with bipolar disorder have a relative with the same diagnosis.

Mood episodes are categorized as manic, hypomanic, or depressive. A manic or hypomanic episode is when the individual is abnormally happy or in an irritable mood for an extended period of time, that is at least one week. These episodes can also include a decreased need for sleep, faster speech, uncontrollable racing thoughts, distractibility, and/or increased risky behavior. To be considered an episode, these behaviors must represent a change from the individual’s usual behavior and the symptoms must be severe enough to cause dysfunction at work or in social activities.

A hypomanic episode is less severe than a manic episode. The symptoms need to only last for at least four days and they do not cause dysfunction in daily life. A depressive episode must be at least two weeks long and include an intense feeling of sadness, loss of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness, increased or decreased sleep, restlessness, and/or difficulty concentrating. These symptoms must also be a change from the individual’s usual behavior.

There are three types of bipolar disorders which include: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. 

Bipolar I

Bipolar I disorder is when the individual has had at least one manic episode that may be followed by a hypomanic or a major depressive episode.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II disorder is when the individual has had at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode, but has never experienced a manic episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is when the individual has had at least two years, in adolescence, where there have been many periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that is treatable with medications and psychotherapy, so it is important to seek treatment from a mental health professional if you experience any of these symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing manic, hypomanic, and/or depressive episodes please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit



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